Excerpt from a new PBS documentary about Daisy Bates, the woman who oversaw the integration of Little Rock’s Central High.  Check your local listings.  

"Daisy Bates was the poster child of black resistance. She was a quarterback, the coach. We were the players."

— Ernest Green, one of the Little Rock Nine, the group of students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957.

Learn more about Daisy Bates at the Schomburg Center on Saturday, when they host a film screening of Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock at 4pm. The director will be there for a talk-back. (via nypl)
ourpresidents:


September 23, 1957 was marked by mob riots in Little Rock, Arkansas over efforts to integrate Central High School.  
The violence began when a crowd outside of Central High School learned that nine African American students were inside the high school.  Little Rock Mayor Woodrow Wilson Mann asked President Eisenhower to intervene and Eisenhower issued a proclamation providing the legal justification for military intervention. Eisenhower ordered the dispatch of troops to uphold the law and addressed the nation. Protected by 1,000 members of the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army and the now federalized National Guard, the nine students attended their first full day of classes on September 25.
This photo shows the Little Rock Nine escorted into Central High School by U.S. soldiers.  
Image courtesy of Central High Museum Historical Collections/UALR Archives and Special Collections

ourpresidents:

September 23, 1957 was marked by mob riots in Little Rock, Arkansas over efforts to integrate Central High School.  

The violence began when a crowd outside of Central High School learned that nine African American students were inside the high school.  Little Rock Mayor Woodrow Wilson Mann asked President Eisenhower to intervene and Eisenhower issued a proclamation providing the legal justification for military intervention. Eisenhower ordered the dispatch of troops to uphold the law and addressed the nation. Protected by 1,000 members of the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army and the now federalized National Guard, the nine students attended their first full day of classes on September 25.

This photo shows the Little Rock Nine escorted into Central High School by U.S. soldiers

Image courtesy of Central High Museum Historical Collections/UALR Archives and Special Collections

Below is a timeline of the integration of Little Rock’s Central High from Our Presidents.  The top photo was taken on September 4, 1957, the first day of school.  Fifteen year old Elizabeth Eckford (pictured) should have been part of a group of nine students, but at the last minute the NAACP delayed the integration because they believed the governor was going to bring in the Arkansas National Guard to prevent their enrollment.  Elizabeth was the only one would didn’t get the message and showed up for school that day.

Elizabeth arrived to find an angry mob and no organized protection.  Grace Lorch (pictured), a 50 something white member of the NAACP, dropped her daughter off at junior high that morning and stopped by the high school to see what was going on.  Grace found Elizabeth on her own and escorted her to her mother’s workplace via a city bus.

Think for a second about what it must have been like to have been either of those women.  Elizabeth was only 15 years old and a historic event rested on her bravery. One of six children, her mother taught in a segregated school for blind and deaf children while her father worked nights for the railroad.  Either of them could have lost their jobs over her enrollment at Central High.  Their house could have been firebombed, they could have been killed.  All for going to school.

Grace was a serious social justice advocate, both she and her husband had lost jobs over their activism.  That day she told the crowd they would be ashamed of themselves in six months and if anyone touched her she would punch them in the nose.  Grace wasn’t an armed National Guard, but she was one tough lady.

ourpresidents:

In the summer of 1957, the city of Little Rock, Arkansas, made plans to desegregate its public schools.  When the school year was set to begin, Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, formerly an all-white school, became a battle ground in the nation’s ongoing civil rights struggle.

Here, a timeline of those events in 1957:

September 2: Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus orders the state’s National Guard to surround the school and prevent the entry of the African-American students.

September 4: National Guardsmen bar the entry of the nine African-American students to Central High School.

September 20: Federal Judge Davies orders Governor Faubus to cease barring integration.

September 23: A crowd of about 1,000 people gather in front of the school. The nine students go inside through a side door. When the crowd learns the students are inside, mob riots break out and the students are taken out of the school through a side door.

September 24:  Mob violence continues.  President Eisenhower announces he is sending 1,000 members of the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock to uphold the law. He also federalized the 10,000-man Arkansas National Guard.

September 25: The students, who become known as The Little Rock Nine, are escorted by Army troops and admitted back into Central High.

June 3, 1958: Ernest Greene becomes the first African-American to graduate from Little Rock’s Central High School.

-more at the Presidential Timeline

Pictured, front row, left to right: Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Carlotta Walls, Mayor Wagner, Thelma Mothershed, Gloria Ray; back row, left to right: Terrance Roberts, Ernest Green, Melba Pattilo, Jefferson Thomas.
This photo was taken in June 1958 after the students had spent a tumultuous year integrating Little Rock’s Central High.  The students were being given an award by the local hotel workers union in New York City and Mayor Wagner changed his schedule in order to personally praise the students for what they had overcome.  Holding Carlotta and Thelma’s hands was a public show of support for school integration.  
Little Rock public schools were closed down by segregationists for the entire 1958-1959 academic year.  The combined efforts of civil rights groups, the federal government, and local citizens who preferred integrated schools to no schools at all eventually led to the reopening of Little Rock’s schools in the summer of 1959.

Pictured, front row, left to right: Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Carlotta Walls, Mayor Wagner, Thelma Mothershed, Gloria Ray; back row, left to right: Terrance Roberts, Ernest Green, Melba Pattilo, Jefferson Thomas.

This photo was taken in June 1958 after the students had spent a tumultuous year integrating Little Rock’s Central High.  The students were being given an award by the local hotel workers union in New York City and Mayor Wagner changed his schedule in order to personally praise the students for what they had overcome.  Holding Carlotta and Thelma’s hands was a public show of support for school integration.  

Little Rock public schools were closed down by segregationists for the entire 1958-1959 academic year.  The combined efforts of civil rights groups, the federal government, and local citizens who preferred integrated schools to no schools at all eventually led to the reopening of Little Rock’s schools in the summer of 1959.